Writing picture of typewriter by Patrick Fore

Importance of Writing in History


This week I read from a new Author by the name of J.D Applen in their book “Old Media, New Media, and Knowledge.” Within my readings, I have gained a better understanding of speaking, writing, and literacy. But I feel the most important achievement humankind has made would be writing.

                When the word writing comes to mind, most would not think of it as a technological tool. Writing can be done with paper and pencil, not just with computers and tablets. But Applen explains that yes! writing is technology because it exists outside of our minds. Writing is technology because humans in many different cultures had to create an alphabet. This had to be done by creating symbols to represent numbers, sounds, vowels, actions, etc. I would imagine much effort had to go into this as these symbols had to be agreed upon by the community. This can lead to less confusion in written communication. In addition to the alphabet, humans had to create the tools they needed to write down. An example of this would be the Greeks who began writing down their words on wax tablets.

Similarities in Other Readings

                This idea that writing is a form of technology is not new. In my previous post on Doug Eyman’s research on the topic of “digital,” he argued that writing is a form of digital and thus, technology. Examples that were brought up were Egyptian hieroglyphics and Aztec codices. Now Greece can be added with their wax tablets and alphabet.

                Writing continues to be an important influence in history. This is because it bridged our spoken languages to become more critically thought on. For Oral languages, individuals may have more difficulty reflecting on what is being said because they only have their memory to rely on. For writing, it allows time for critical thinking and reflection on words or phrases. Individuals can also be able to carefully craft the idea they are trying to convey through writing. Without it, individuals may not be able to reflect on what they are trying to say.

Human vs. Computer language

                The most interesting part of this section of Applen’s work is that the syntax of computer language is vastly different than that of human language. Specifically, it opened my mind that we humans have phrases and words that are understandable in the context of a situation. For a computer, it cannot differentiate between literal and figurative language. Thus, this leads me to think this is another reason why computer “language” is of binary code of 0’s and 1’s. This way the machine can complete its tasks effectively.


                Overall, writing feels to be the most important technology humanity has created. This can be for storing information, conversing with one another, critically thinking, and as well as create computer code.


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